Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top Ten Period Drama Dresses

What's the one reason why we watch period dramas? Okay the plot is one... Yes, the acting is good... Yes, the heroes are dashing. Okay, so there is more than one reason why we watch period dramas. But one of the most common reasons that we watch period dramas is the costuming. Wouldn't we all love to wear a lot of those fashions that they wore back then today? They were so lovely and elegant! Why don't we wear something like today?

But anyways, we all have our favorite dresses and outfits from period dramas. Here are my top ten favorite period drama dresses.

#10. Emily Trevelyan's White Belted Dress from He Knew He Was Right
As a period drama, He Knew He Was Right was not the greatest. The subplots made it worth watching and on their own, they could have made a great period drama. The main plot, on the other hand, felt like you were watching a train wreck in slow motion that didn't get better as the story went on... But the costuming on main character Emily Trevelyan was very nice indeed! I love this white dress: it's dainty and a very clean look. The 1860s isn't my favorite fashion era (some of their fashions were a little bizarre), but this dress is very nice!

#9. Amy Dorrit's Work Clothes from Little Dorrit (2008)
Compared to the other dresses, this may seem like it pales in comparison to the other dresses. But nevertheless, this dress holds a special place in my heart. The whole outfit is so Amy: modest, meek, and practical. 

#8. Hetta Carbury's Walking Dress from The Way We Live Now
I've grown a fondness of the bustle era in which The Way We Live Now takes place. There were many nice tailored looks that complimented the bustle well. This is one of those outfits. The bodice is so well tailored to Hetta that it looks like such a classy look. And it is perfectly accented by lace coming out of the neckline and the sleeves.

#7. Princess Victoria's Yellow Dinner Gown from The Young Victoria
The extravagance! I love this dress! The puffed sleeves are reminiscent of the 1830s, but they are not the ridiculously big sleeves that were popular at that time. There's a noticeable puff, but not too big of a puff. Then there's the lace along the neckline. And the flowers? It's a very sweet look!

#6. Molly Gibson's Blue Jumper in Wives and Daughters
And also another favorite is a similar jumper worn by Emma Woodhouse in Emma (2009), but since I'm trying to have a variety of eras in this post, I'll just include this one. Usually, I dislike the fashions that were worn in 1830s period dramas: the sleeves are usually ridiculous, the hair is crazy, and it's simply not my favorite era. But this jumper and white blouse is definitely a favorite of mine! It's so cute and while not completely girly, it is definitely feminine. Now, I haven't seen any similar dresses in fashion plates from that time period, but still, this is a favorite dress of mine.

#5. Marguerite St. Just's White Picnic Outfit from The Scarlet Pimpernel
I've only seen The Scarlet Pimpernel once all the way through, and at the time it was one of the few Georgian period dramas that I've seen... So naturally, I fell in love with Marguerite's costuming (and her hair! She made big hair look amazing!). This picnic dress is a very summery look (at least to my modern eyes) and is very light and pretty.

#4. Georgiana Cavendish's Walking Outfit in The Duchess (2008)
Note: Georgiana is the lady on the right
So, I can't really recommend this movie: it was a bit depressing, didn't have a very good moral, and had quite a few inappropriate scenes. However, the costuming is awesome! This outfit that Georgiana wears is very nice. I love the shawl that is wrapped around her and accented with a brooch. Plus, I'm very interested in one day trying to make a bodice design like the one she has on in this picture.

#3. Marianne Dashwood's Robe from Sense and Sensibility (1995)
More popular around 1795 than the start of the true Regency era (which started in 1811), this kind of robe was worn both as day wear and evening wear. Marianne used it as day wear. This is another one of those costumes that I want to recreate. I like how the regular dress is also visible and the fichu that covers the neckline is a nice touch!

#2. Elizabeth Bennet's White Summer Gown in Pride and Prejudice (1995)
I liked this dress so much that I made my own version! Okay, so this gown was more reasonable for me to make on my sewing budget, but I still really like the gown. It's a simple gown, but there is enough details in it so it looks really nice. The pintucks at the bottom of the dress and at the bottom of the sleeves, the simple fabric with stripes going up and down: a simply lovely effect!

#1. Lady Mary's Red Dinner Dress
One of my favorite fashion eras is the early 1910s: it's reminiscent of the Regency Era in that there are some oriental styles and the empire waist was fashionable. Though the color is a little dark, I love the design of this dress. The fine embroidery on the overlay, the red sash, the oriental style! It's a very exquisite dress and is well suited to Lady Mary. This is definitely a dress I want to make one day.

So, those are my Top Ten Period Drama Dresses. Which ones are your favorites? Do you have any favorites that I have not listed here? Leave a comment!

I have a feeling that after reading the comments, I'm going to feel like, "Oh! I should have included that one!" Hehe!

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet


  1. Ooooh, I love so many of these! I want Emily Trevelyan's gown for my owwwwwwwnnnnnnn... Lady Mary's too. Okay, you've inspired me. Off to write my own top ten post...

  2. These are all gorgeous dresses! My favorites from this list are Marguerite's white picnic dress from The Scarlet Pimpernel and Lady Mary's red dinner dress.

  3. My picks would be anything from Upstairs/Downstairs (the original series set in the Edwardian Era) and Duchess of Duke Street.

  4. Lady Mary's red evening gown is one of my favorites as well! Of course, I absolutely love all the costumes in Downton Abbey, particularly Mary's.
    I agree, most of the hairstyles in the 1830s were simply ridiculous. I generally dislike fashions from that era too, but I love Molly Gibson's dresses!
    Oooh, and I also love that dress from The Duchess! I am kind of interested in that movie, but I've read not-so-good things about it, so I don't think I'll watch it. I'm sure the costumes are all beautiful though!
    I enjoyed this immensely!


    1. I reviewed The Duchess awhile ago (http://elegance-of-fashion.blogspot.com/2013/01/review-duchess-2008.html). I would say that if you watch it, watch it for the costumes and the music. The plot and characters weren't great. There were also quite a lot of content issues: the movie really should have been rated R and not PG-13.

      I'm glad you enjoyed this post! :-)

  5. Oo-la-la! What a fun post, Elizabeth and of course, the costumes are one of the main reasons to watch costume drama. :)

  6. Ooh, these are beautiful. My favorites from the ones you named are #10 and #8. Lovely.
    Do you mind if I copy you and post my own top ten? :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Nope, I don't mind. I'm glad you like this post! :-)

  7. Great post! I also love the fashion of the 1910 era and many of the dresses from the 1st series of Downton are among my favourites. Other favourites are the dresses from Emma (2009), the costuming there was splendid!

  8. A bit off topic, but are you watching "The Paradise" on PBS? I passed by the first few episodes until I realized that is was not only a Period drama, but also one BASED ON FASHION!!! Having a bit of trouble identifying what period exactly though.....late 1870's by some dresses and maybe even mid 1880s by others. Any guesses from your point of view?

    1. I haven't been watching it yet, but my mom and I want to watch it. I've seen a little bit of the first episode, though, so I want to keep watching it. I would say that the fashions in there are somewhere from the mid 1870s to the early 1880s; that would be the time when the bustle went out of fashion, but before it came back into fashion in the mid 1880s. Judging from the lower necklines on some of the fashionable ladies, though, I'm inclined to say in the late 1870s (during the 1880s, necklines evolved into very high necklines for day wear). I'd have to look at the clothes a little bit more to give a more definite answer, but that's where my estimate would be.

      Maybe once I start watching it, I'll write a review and post more about the fashions. Thank you for your question! :-)


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